Company behind popular Money Habitudes cards encourages people to think about money with a list of reasons specific to the back-to-school season. Good conversations about money and finances happen when they are proactive and constructive. Assessing one’s habits and attitudes related to money in a fun, non-threatening manner can be an effective first step in handling larger issues.
Wilmington, NC, August 22, 2009 — LifeWise promotes making healthy financial decisions with its latest list of seasonal reasons to have a constructive conversation about money. Because money plays such a central role in our lives, people benefit by talking proactively about it instead of waiting until there is a critical need to discuss finances. And with every season come specific challenges and opportunities around money management, be it planning for summer vacation, battling the excesses of the holiday season, or shopping for back-to-school.”
The back-to-school season is exciting, but it can also be daunting when it comes to restocking wardrobes and lockers and making big purchases like computers. There are perhaps hundreds of little back-to-school decisions that people make about money, but if we understand how we relate to money, we’re better equipped to make healthier, balanced choices,” says Syble Solomon, president of LifeWise and creator of Money Habitudes™, the leading conversation-starter about people’s habits and attitudes about money.
Despite a predicted 7.7% decrease in back-to-school spending from 2008, the National Retail Federation estimates an average expenditure of around $550 per child for families with students from Kindergarten through twelfth grade.
As opposed to other high-intensity spending periods, during back-to-school, children are very involved and exposed to their parents’ money decisions. These weeks provide an opportunity to model good money behavior. However, a trip to the mall for shirts or notebooks may also reveal parents’ problematic money habits.
Consider these questions and topics to shape your buying decisions while shopping with your kids and the messages you convey:
- Savings vs. Value: If you hold onto money very tightly, you may be a penny wise and a pound foolish. When the price tag is your only criterion for making choices, value can be sacrificed and, in the long run, it may cost more money. For example, do you buy a cheap book bag and have to replace it every couple of months? Do you scrimp on a computer or software and then waste hours because it is unreliable or doesn’t meet your student’s needs? Know when it’s worth spending more money for value and when it isn’t. Point out the differences between products to help your child learn how to make wiser choices.
- Needs vs. Wants: If you love to shop and are easily influenced by salespeople, or if you are living vicariously through your children’s purchases, you may find yourself buying items your child doesn’t need and may not even want. A cell phone may be a necessity, but do you need all the bells and whistles? When shopping for school supplies, resist tempting impulse buys like a $20 pen or cute paper clips. Stick to a list, decide on one allowable impulse item for yourself and your children in advance, and set a spending limit. Parents who compare prices, differentiate between needs and wants and allow a controlled “fun buy” make good choices without feeling deprived.
- Planning vs. Last-Minute Shopping: If you value saving, order books and supplies online in advance to save money. If you favor last-minute shopping or value the in-store family tradition, be cautious not to overspend for tradition’s sake. Recognize your style to avoid the trap of last-minute shopping. Start a new tradition with a fun family adventure or a special meal to celebrate the school year. Model a balanced approach to planning, saving, spending, and enjoying for your children.
Four more quick tips to help children learn good money messages during back-to-school shopping:
- Remember your children are constantly learning from your actions. If you only shop and fulfill their every want, they may feel undervalued, linking material gifts to love and acceptance.
- Give children choices and then accept their choice even if it isn’t yours. It gives them a sense of control and respect and teaches them to accept the consequences of their decisions. If they grow weary of the outrageous design on their jacket, they must live with their choice.
- Avoid ever equating your child’s worth with what you will spend. Eliminate comments such as I would never spend that much money on you. You’re not worth it. When you start acting better, I might buy you more. Likewise, stop using these statements as well: You’re worth every penny I spend on you. You deserve only the best. You’re so good I don’t mind spending more money on you.
- Involve your children in the shopping process. Let them look at ads, brainstorm the list of things they need, and know how much you plan to spend. Talk about trade-offs so they can make choices. If they want expensive items like the latest notebook or shoes, what will they cut or spend less on to stay within budget?
Back-to-school shopping provides numerous teachable moments to help your children develop a healthy relationship with money and essential life skills. Use the opportunity to have conversations that help them learn to respect money, use it wisely, and make good choices.
Money Habitudes™ is a top conversation starter, fostering constructive discussions about money in a fun, engaging, and non-threatening manner. Money Habitudes, a versatile training tool resembling a card game, suits individuals, couples, and groups. It caters to adults, young adults, teens, and Spanish speakers. Thousands of people across the U.S. and in 40 other countries are using it. In addition, professionals such as therapists, counselors, educators, and financial advisors use Money Habitudes. Educational, faith-based, community, military, and professional settings actively use the cards in financial planning, career development, relationship-building, conflict resolution, financial literacy, marriage education, and life-skills programs. Solomon, the creator of Money Habitudes, is a popular speaker. She is the recipient of the 2009 Smart Marriages Impact Award for the cards’ role in promoting healthy relationships. The Association of Financial Planning and Counseling Education named her Educator of the Year in 2006.